FlixChatter Review: The Green Knight (2021)

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The Arthurian legends has existed for thousands of years, yet its timeless tale still inspires contemporary storytellers to this very day. There have been plenty of interpretation/retelling and the most recent one I watched was the Netflix TV series Cursed (sadly the show isn’t renewed for another season), which focuses on a teenage sorceress who encounters more well-known characters from the legend on her journey, such as Arthur himself, wizard Merlin and knight Lancelot. This time, writer/director David Lowery focuses on a lesser-known character, Sir Gawain. 

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One of the main reasons this new retelling appeals to me is the casting of Dev Patel as Gawain, as I’ve talked about in this post and its follow-up. Right from its opening scene it’s apparent this wouldn’t be your typical Arthurian adaptation. It’s a wide shot of Gawain wearing a crown, sitting on a throne in an empty hall holding a scepter… as the camera zooms in closer to him, his crown is on fire and then his head suddenly burst into flames.

We’re so used to seeing knights as being galant, chivalrous and basically all heroic, but here we see young, disheveled Gawain as anything but. Granted he’s not a knight yet at this point, but even as a regular guy you could say he’s pretty unambitious lazy. We first see him awaken inside a brothel on Christmas day, preferring to stay in bed with his lover Essel than attend mass, much to the chagrin of his mother (Sarita Choudhury). Now, Gawain himself is quite aware he’s no hero. When he’s later summoned by his uncle King Arthur (Sean Harris) and he asks him to tell him a story, he replied that he has none to tell. ‘Yet,’ said sympathetic Queen Guinevere (Kate Dickie) who somehow believes in this young man, perhaps more so than Gawain believes in himself.

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But soon his chance to prove himself comes soon enough during a feast at the Round Table with the visit from the mysterious Green Knight. He challenges the king and his knights to a morbid ‘game’ that involves beheading his head to win his magical green axe. The catch is they must travel to the Green Chapel the following Christmas to accept the same blow in return. Gawain ends up taking up the challenge and the film follows the one-year journey to meet his fate. I thought it’s interesting that Lowery actually uses title cards to break some of the eventful moments during the journey, perhaps an homage to how books are broken down in chapters. 

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The film sure isn’t lacking in style and visual panache. Lowery decidedly makes a visual poetry with imaginative camera work, atmospheric tone and gorgeous production design + costumes. DP Andrew Droz Palermo would likely nabs a bunch of awards for his tremendous cinematography here. I always appreciate films that feels authentic and filming on location in Ireland certainly gives that gritty vibe. Now I have mixed feelings about the sound design and score by Daniel Hart though. It does have a haunting quality and fits the tone and visual style really well, but the string-heavy score gets pretty aggravating by the end.

The look of the ginormous green knight himself in particular is really striking and he’s made quite an entrance–and exit–while carrying his own head as he rides his horse. I have to say though, I wish the film weren’t SO dark, though obviously using mostly natural light inside those Medieval castle naturally makes everything look dim and shadowy. For some reason the showing at the local EMAGINE theater I was in was SO dark I could barely make out the details. 

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Yet there’s something magnetic about The Green Knight that keeps me engaged despite some of the baffling scenes (what’s with those naked female giants??) and snail-like pacing. Ironic that the title cards say ‘A Too Quick Year’ as things move pretty slowly, as if we need to ‘earn’ the moral lessons of the story as Gawain does with his quest. It’s truly a testament to Lowery’s unconventional approach to the material and the actors’ performance that I wasn’t bored with it. I read that he added plenty of VFX shots and re-edited the film during pandemic delays, so I’m curious how different the original version was to this final cut. I’m not too familiar with his filmography, but judging from his work here, he’s definitely a talented director with a bold vision and unique style. I wouldn’t call him a visionary yet, I’d need to see more of his work first. The only one I’ve seen is Pete’s Dragon though now I’m curious to check out A Ghost Story which perhaps is most similar in terms of tone to this one.

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The casting is great all around. I’ve mentioned Dev Patel and he just gets better and better since the first time I saw him in Slumdog Millionaire. This isn’t the first time Patel tackles a British literature hero normally reserved for White Anglo-Saxon actors (he’s fantastic as David Copperfield) and I sure hope it isn’t the last. He’s got the charisma and range to believably depict Gawain’s various persona in the film–reckless, vulnerable, callous, etc. He’s also got that inherent likability that makes us root for him despite his vice.

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In the supporting roles, Alicia Vikander is captivating in a dual role as Essel and Lady Bertilak. Her speech concerning what the color green epitomizes, that it’s the color of nature and life as well as rotten things/vomit and death, is one of my favorite scenes in the film. The set up of that scene is wonderful and you just can’t take your eyes off her. There’s also a sexually-charged scene between her and Patel that truly relies on the actors’ expression where things are implied rather than shown. Joel Edgerton as the Lord Bertilak is terrific as well in his brief scene, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Aussie actor gives a bad performance. Erin Kellyman also has a memorable scene as St. Winifred in the spookiest part of Gawain’s journey. Last but not least, Ralph Ineson is pretty wild in the title role. His gravely voice is perfect for the role and under those heavy layers of costume prosthetics, the character is immediately intimidating. Oh, lest not forget the orange Fox who accompanies Gawain for part of his journey, the furry animal has some pretty memorable moments!

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I think whether or not you enjoy The Green Knight likely depends on how familiar one is with the source material. I wish I were as well-versed on it, as I decided to read up on and watch on it after the movie. There are definitely plenty of life lessons to unpack from all the metaphors, symbolism and visual poetry presented here. The ending is open to interpretation, but you could say it’s a coming-of-age of sort as Gawain is forced to ‘grow up’ by the end of his journey and learn his lessons about honor, chivalry, etc. and what it means to be a true knight.

Overall I think I appreciate this movie but it didn’t cast a magical spell on me the way some major critics has described. Perhaps the overly-dark visuals might’ve dampened my enjoyment, it also doesn’t help that the theater was SO cold I had to run to my car quick to grab a blanket, something I’ve NEVER done before. That said, I’m still glad I saw it on the big screen and highly recommend this to anyone looking for something off-the-beaten-path from the typical Hollywood offerings. The distinctive visuals alone is well worth a watch, though hopefully you find a cinema where the showing isn’t overly dark. I definitely want to revisit this film once it’s available on streaming.

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Have you seen THE GREEN KNIGHT? I’d love to hear what you think!

A24 presents – Legends Never Die: An Oral History of The Green Knight

I’ve been anticipating this movie for over a year now! I first blogged about The Green Knight in February 2020, but of course it’s delayed because of Covid. Well now the wait is nearly over! From director David Lowery and starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, and Joel Edgerton, this medieval fantasy opens ONLY in theaters on July 30!

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A24 just released this fascinating and helpful video in anticipation of its release. Narrated by Ralph Ineson (who plays the title role in the movie), it’s a crash course on the 14th century epic poem that inspired the upcoming film. Whether you’re an Arthurian expert or a little green, it’s worth a watch.

Here’s the synopsis again:

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, THE GREEN KNIGHT tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves, and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

Check out these new stills from the film:

Per the film’s press notes, this is not the knight of knights of the epic poem. “My Gawain is someone who is not terrible—he’s no wretched scum—but he isn’t the best version of himself he could be,” says Lowery. “I love protagonists who come to realize the ways in which they are flawed.” [Lowery] also wanted the character to resonate with today’s interrogation of modern masculinity. “Issues of masculinity are front and center in modern discourse and it’s caused many of us to look at ourselves under a microscope and ponder where we might have lost our way, overlooked things, or done wrong,” says Lowery.

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After considering dozens of male leads, Lowery met with Dev Patel (The Personal History of David Copperfield, Slumdog Millionaire), an actor known for his winsome, irrepressible and upbeat characters, typically rife with gangly charm. Lowery’s early drafts of the script featured a protagonist that was on the verge of being irredeemable, and while Patel loved his take on the medieval classic, he wanted a glimmer of redemption in the protagonist, in keeping with his body of work.

“Dev had some really wonderful notes on the script, and I tweaked the story accordingly,” says Lowery. Adds Patel: “Gawain is sort of this spoiled brat, and I told David before I signed on that if we’re going to go on this extraordinary journey with him—amid sparse dialogue and many instances of questionable behavior—there has to be something that makes you root for him through this adversity.”


I’m so thrilled to see Dev as Gawain and it’s definitely not the first time he’s tackled a role normally reserved for Caucasian actors. His casting just makes me even more excited to watch this Arthurian legend adaptation, and the fact that it’s a lesser known Arthurian stories compared to Lancelot and Guinevere, the wizard Merlin, etc. makes it even more fascinating!


Are you looking forward to seeing THE GREEN KNIGHT?

New Teaser + Poster Spotlight: A24’s The Green Knight

It’s not every week I do a post about an upcoming movie. But hey, after Oscars wrapped this past weekend, I’m just looking forward what’s in store this year. I had never even heard of this movie before, but when I saw this provocative poster came across my Insta, courtesy of A24, I knew I had to post about it!

It’s funny that I actually just talked about Dev Patel w/ a fellow blogger Brittany from Rambling Film blog and that we’re both crushing on him right now 😉 How awesome to see that he’s actually the leading man of this movie, in a Medieval fantasy no less!

Here’s the premise, thanks to Paste Magazine:

An epic fantasy adventure based on the timeless Arthurian legend, The Green Knight tells the story of Sir Gawain (Dev Patel), King Arthur’s reckless and headstrong nephew, who embarks on a daring quest to confront the eponymous Green Knight, a gigantic emerald-skinned stranger and tester of men. Gawain contends with ghosts, giants, thieves and schemers in what becomes a deeper journey to define his character and prove his worth in the eyes of his family and kingdom by facing the ultimate challenger. From visionary filmmaker David Lowery comes a fresh and bold spin on a classic tale from the knights of the round table.

Behold the new trailer!

Glad I read a little bit about the story of the poem it’s based on, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, whose original writer is unknown. Sir Gawain is a knight of King Arthur’s Round Table, and of course King Arthur is an extremely popular literary subject that’s been adapted countless times on film and other forms of media. Right away it gives me a bit of Game of Thrones meets Tarsem’s Immortals vibe. The fact that it’s A24 developing it makes me extra excited for it… it looks ominous + mysterious, and a foreboding score. Not sure if it’s going to get an R rating, but looks like it’s likely pretty violent. Now, if only we can have Sean Harris play a mute for once? Sorry but I can’t stand his hoarse voice, ugh!


As I mentioned, I love Dev Patel’s casting, who over the years has proven himself to be a versatile actor who can play virtually any role. He isn’t the first actor I’d imagine to play a heroic Medieval knight, but why shouldn’t he be? I love how many theaters in the Twin Cities have incorporated many actors of colors in many literary classic adaptations of Shakespeare and Jane Austen, so why can’t they do the same in films and tv works? The important part is the actor captures the ‘essence’ of the character. Most recently Patel also played a famous literary character by Charles Dickens in The Personal History of David Copperfield.

The rest of the cast includes Alicia Vikander (Lady Bertilak) and Joel Edgerton (Lord Bertilak), as well as Barry Keoghan, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, and Ralph Ineson. As for the filmmaker, I’ve only seen Pete’s Dragon (which I love) by David Lowery, but his most recent film The Old Man & the Gun starring Robert Redford is highly acclaimed by critics.

I’m glad I’ll be seeing more of Patel this Spring. The the David Copperfield movie is to be released on May 8 and per IMDb, The Green Knight is released on May 29.


What do you think of THE GREEN KNIGHT?

Week In Review: Hunt For the Wilderpeople + Loving + The Little Prince

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How’s your weekend everyone? It’s been a while since I did a roundup post, but I figure it’s a good way for me to ease my way into blogging again. It’s been a particularly gratifying week as I saw two of my highly-anticipated films, Loving and Hunt For the Wilderpeople. As Winter has officially arrived, we pretty much hibernated this weekend so my hubby and I saw The Little Prince on Netflix Saturday night.

Below is my mini reviews of two of the films I saw this past week, plus quick thoughts on the New Zealander adventure comedy…

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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I became a huge fan of Taika Waititi‘s work since the hilarious vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows. Well, he’s come up with yet another riotously-funny movie that could practically double as a travel video for New Zealand!

I will do a full review of this later in December, but right now all I can say is… RUN, don’t walk to rent this movie!! I’m gutted that I missed this on the big screen, not sure that it even had a theatrical release here in MN. In any case, I enjoyed the heck out of this one. LOVE the unlikely duo of veteran actor Sam Neill with newcomer Julian Dennison, a riotous 14-year-old NZ child actor with an amazing comic timing and screen presence. He’s inspired me to do a top 10 list of great 2016 performances by kid actors, so stay tuned for that!


Loving

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Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, are sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married.

This film couldn’t have come at a better time, as America is surely in tumultuous times right now. It seems appalling that interracial marriage was still illegal in some states fifty some years ago, but have we really come that far since? The latest film from Jeff Nichols is beautifully-told, graceful and affecting as the filmmaker focused on the couple themselves instead of making a political statement. Yes of course the film has a major political and social implication, as the Supreme Court decision on Loving v. Virginia put an end to all miscegenation laws in 1967. But at the end of the day, the story is about two human beings who loved each other and wanted to raise a family together.

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Both Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton portrayed Mildred and Richard with such quiet grace and sincerity. It’s an understated performance that speaks volumes and conveys the tension as well as poignancy of what they went through. For someone withe the name Loving, Richard surely lives up to that and it’s truly a beautiful marriage built on not just love, but mutual respect. Michael Shannon has a small–but–memorable cameo as a LIFE magazine photographer who took the iconic shots of the couple as they simply hang out in their home, watching tv, playing with their kids, etc. There’s also Marton Csokas as the ‘villain’ of the story, the Virginia sheriff who arrested them.

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The script, direction and performance all work beautifully to bring the Lovings’ story to life. The cinematography and music are beautiful and evocative, it works in transporting us to a certain period of Americana. But it’s the journey of the Lovings that I shall never forget. By making the film about the couple, forgoing court drama theatrics, Nichols made a deeply moving film that connected with me in a refreshingly real way.

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The Little Prince (2015)

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A little girl lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to prepare her for it. Her neighbor, the Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of the Little Prince.

Truth be told, I’m not that familiar with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, despite it being the fourth most translated book in the world. This is the first animated feature film adaptation of the book, directed by Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda), boasting a terrific cast that includes Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Ricky Gervais, etc.

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I have a penchant for these kinds of imaginative stories, one that blends in reality and fantasy set in striking visuals. The little girl’s relationship with her overly-ambitious mother is an interesting commentary about the overly-structured life of an adult vs the wide-eyed openness of a child exploring the world. I have to admit it took me a while to get into this one at first, even after the girl (Mackenzie Foy, who was in Interstellar) meets the narrator, an elderly man (Jeff Bridges) who told her the tale about the aviator and the little prince. I’m often lost in the beauty of the visuals, especially the stop-motion scenes in the desert created using paper. It’s absolutely gorgeous with a dreamy quality, but yet for some reason I couldn’t connect to the story nor the characters as much as I wanted to. I wonder if at times there’s a case of ‘lost in translation’ here from the original story.

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There are philosophical quotes that resonated with me however, such as “One sees clearly only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye.” I also enjoyed the music by Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey, which nicely complements the ethereal, watercolor look of the film. It certainly is worth a watch, for sure it’s a technical/visual marvel, even if the film overall isn’t as breathtaking as I had hoped.

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More reviews coming your way…

I’ve written up my full review of Doctor Strange coming later this week. My hubby and I saw Arrival last weekend, right after we’re back from our Zion/Vegas trip, which was truly one of the best, most affecting sci-fi film I’ve seen in a good while.  I plan on writing my review of Arrival and Moonlight (one of the two October Movies of the Month!) later this week. I’ll be seeing the new Brad Pitt/Marion Cotillard spy drama Allied tonight, and if the snow storm doesn’t wreck havoc on traffic, hopefully I’ll be seeing Hidden Figures tomorrow night! Oh and my new blog contributor Laura S. also gave me a review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so stay tuned for a slew of new reviews in the next few weeks!

#SlowlyGettingMyBloggingMojoBack 😉


So did you see anything good this weekend? If you’ve seen any of these movies, I’m curious to hear what YOU think. 

Everybody’s Chattin + Trailers Spotlight: Jeff Nichols’ LOVING + Warren Beatty’s ‘Rules Don’t Apply’

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Happy almost Friday everyone! It’s been quite a busy week for me, in and out of work, so I’m glad the weekend is just around the corner!! I’m going to see Captain Fantastic tonight so very excited for that.

Ok, about those links…

Keith posted his Blindspot review on A Man Escaped

Dell posted his thoughts on Steve Jobs movie

Meanwhile, Courtney argued that Swiss Army Man might be the most uplifting movie yet

I love birthday tributes and Margaret just posted a massive one on the legendary Harrison Ford

Steven posted a review one of my brothers’ favorites, Smokey and the Bandit

Well, we can’t agree on everything but that’s what makes blogging fun, right? Eddie reviewed Midnight Special and Jordan reviewed Sing Street, they feel quite differently than I did about each movie.


Trailers Spotlight

This week I’m highlighting two movies that deal with forbidden romance, relationships that break the rules of sort, though both are set in very different circumstances. Whether it’s society’s rules of the time or rules mandated by strict employers, the couples in these films face challenges to stay together. Both films are released in November.

LOVING

Release: November 4, 2016
Director: Jeff Nichols
Writer: Jeff Nichols
Stars: Ruth Negga, Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton

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Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, are sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married.

Check out the brand new trailer:

“I know we have some enemies. But we have some friends too.”
– Mildred Loving

This beautifully-shot film is poised to be a real tearjerker. I love Nichols’ work, as well as Joel Edgerton and Nichols’ muse Michael Shannon. But it’s Ruth Negga‘s performance I’m most looking forward to seeing. I cried just watching this trailer, it’s certainly a timely film, especially in light of recent events in my state as well as in Texas. As a non-White person who have many friends who married people outside of their own race, this is certainly a topic I’m intrigued by. In fact, before I met my hubby who shares my Southeast Asian heritage, back in college I’ve gone on dates with a Latino, as well as Caucasian guys. I remember feeling a bit uneasy walking or dining with my White boyfriend in the small town I lived in, as some older people would stare. I don’t think they meant any harm though, so I can’t imagine what the Loving couple had to go through endure living in 1950s America!

Director Jeff Nichols was able to tell the story of the Loving family as accurately as possible by relying on Nancy Buirski’s documentary The Loving Story (2011), which captured many details of their private lives: “We had this beautiful documentary footage unearthed from the mid-’60s where we got to go into their home and see them and watch them,” Nichols said. “It’s an unusual thing to have access to.” (per IMDb)

RULES DON’T APPLY

Release: November 23, 2016
Produced and Directed by: Warren Beatty
Screenplay by Warren Beatty; Story by Warren Beatty and Bo Goldman
Cast: Alec Baldwin, Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Haley Bennett, Candice Bergen, Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, Lily Collins, Steve Coogan, Alden Ehrenreich, Taissa Farmiga, Ed Harris, Megan Hilty, Oliver Platt and Martin Sheen
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An aspiring young actress (Lily Collins) and her ambitious young driver (Alden Ehrenreich) struggle hopefully with the absurd eccentricities of the wildly unpredictable billionaire (Warren Beatty), who they work for.

It’s Hollywood, 1958. Small town beauty queen and devout Baptist virgin Marla Mabrey (Collins), under contract to the infamous Howard Hughes (Beatty), arrives in Los Angeles. At the airport, she meets her driver Frank Forbes (Ehrenreich), who is engaged to be married to his 7th grade sweetheart and is a deeply religious Methodist. Their instant attraction not only puts their religious convictions to the test, but also defies Hughes’ #1 rule: no employee is allowed to have any relationship whatsoever with a contract actress.

This one seems to have a similar comedic vibe as Hail, Caesar!, and hey, the new Han Solo Alden Ehrenreich is in this, too. Hopefully this one will be a better movie though. It’s also got has an amazing cast, interesting to see Bening & Beatty working together again (after Bugsy & Love Affair in the 90s), haven’t seen either one of them in ages. I haven’t seen Matthew Broderick in a long time either, he looks pretty funny here.

Apparently Warren Beatty first pitched a Howard Hughes biopic as early as 1973. He continually tried to get a film involving Hughes off the ground every year or two since then. One can say it’s a film 40 years in the making. (per IMDb)


What do you think of either of these trailers?

FlixChatter Review: Midnight Special (2016)

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I’m a big fan of science fiction films, and the ones that are more *grounded* in our reality, meaning it’s not all sleek and drowned in special effects are usually the most compelling. Midnight Special is certainly one of those films, which in essence is a father/son story.

Right from its opening scene, this film instantly grabbed me and never let up. Two men are on the run with a small boy Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) and the people in a cult organization are hot on their trail. Who the boy is and why he’s so important to the devout followers of this group is not known right away. The only thing we know from the marketing promos is that perhaps he’s from another world as we don’t shoot laser beams from our eyes, nor could we make a satellite fall from the sky. Soon the FBI arrives in the small town in Louisiana and from the interrogations with the cult members, we’re given glimpses of why Alton is so special. As if being on the run is not hard enough, there’s a certain date looming that the runaway group absolutely can’t miss.

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I feel that it’s best to experience this film knowing as little as possible. I love discovering more and more about the characters as one layer after another is peeled away. Alton has a very close relationship with his father Roy (Michael Shannon), who we knew in the beginning is his adopted dad. But who is Lucas (Joel Edgerton), the guy helping them get away? I’ll let you figure that out, as that’s part of the fun of discovering the story.

Jeff Nichols wrote and directed this movie and I’m so impressed by his talent as a storyteller. The story is intriguing albeit not completely original and treads some familiar grounds. It reminds me a bit of Spielberg’s E.T. but with its own twist as well as look and feel. Though the story deals with a kid’s special powers, it’s not really the main focus. Instead, it’s more about the relationship of Alton and Roy and why Roy would risk everything, even his own life, to get Alton to where he needs to go. It’s a bond that transcend understanding.

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The performances are excellent all around. I haven’t seen Lieberher in anything but despite his young age, this isn’t his first film. He’s able to convey a lot without saying anything, which is tricky even for adult actors. Shannon is truly one of the best actors working today as he’s excellent in everything I’ve seen him in so far, including this one. There’s something enigmatic about him but here he shows a tender, vulnerable side as well. He shares a convincing emotional bond with Lieberher which makes you so invested in their journey. Edgerton is another actor whose work I admire, so it’s cool to see both him and Shannon’s continued collaboration with Nichols (both are featured in his latest film, the Sundance darling Loving). Adam Driver has a supporting role as the NSA officer, sporting geeky chic glasses a la Snowden. He’s quite memorable here and at times provides some comic relief. I have to mention Kirsten Dunst and Sam Shepard as well in small but key supporting roles.

Though mostly serious, the film isn’t devoid of humor and some amusing scenes thanks to some of the roles some of the actor have portrayed. I’m not going to say what that reference is, but let’s just say it has something to do with a superhero from another world who’s also adopted by an earthly father. I appreciate that the film has plenty of quiet moments but by no means slow or tedious. The fact that there’s not much action happening, but when it does, it’s quite effective.


I wouldn’t say the film is perfect however, there are some predictable moments that somewhat lessen the impact. The fact that there are still a lot of unanswered questions about Alton by the end is a bit frustrating. Why did he end up on earth in the first place, why is the daylight harmful to him, why the cult thinks Alton is who they think they are, and so on. That said, there’s enough going for it that Midnight Special was a satisfying ride. Oh and that finale is quite a heart-pounding one. Given all the suspenseful build up, nice to see a pretty powerful pay-off.

Overall it’s an impressive film that offers a unique twist to an often-told sci-fi tale. This one is actually Nichols’ first studio film (with Warner Bros), but given that it’s budget is only $18 mil, the studio still agreed to let him have the final cut. I sure hope that he’ll continue to get as much creative control over his work even as he inevitably transition into bigger-budget films.

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So have you seen ‘Midnight Special’? Let me know what you think!

FlixChatter Review: BLACK MASS (2015)

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It’s been almost 20 years since the last time Johnny Depp starred in a modern gangster film, the vastly underrated Donnie Brasco. He’s now back playing another true life gangster character, James “Whitey” Bulger, the most violent criminal in South Boston.

Told in a flashback style, the film starts with the integration of Bulger’s crew members. In the 70s, Bulger was just a small time gangster but then rose to the top by becoming an informant to the FBI. We get to see that he has a normal life with a young beautiful wife Lindsey (Dakota Johnson) and a son. His brother Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the state senator, so we know he has a powerful ally.

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We’re then introduced to an FBI agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton), who happens to be a childhood friend of the Bulger brothers. Connolly wants to move up the ranks in the FBI office and one day asked Whitey to help him bring down the Italian mafia. Whitey was hesitant at first; he doesn’t want to be known as a “rat”. Connolly convinced him otherwise and as the story progresses, we get to see how far both of these men will go to get what they want. For fans of gangster genre, there are not many new things that haven’t been told before cinematically.

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Depp has been getting lots of good buzz on his performance and I believe he deserves all the praise. At first I thought I was going to see Depp acting like the usual Depp’s character. But to my surprise, he really shines here as the ruthless gangster who has no hesitation to kill anyone who wronged him or come in his way. Bad makeup aside, he really brought a chilling portrayal of a psychopath and made me believe that this was the real Bulger.

The other standout performance belongs to Edgerton, he plays a weasel FBI agent that reminded me of Matt Damon’s character in The Departed. Cumberbatch didn’t really have much to do and his *Boston* accent was kind of distracting a few times. He did have a very good scene with Edgerton though; it’s a scene you’ll have to see to appreciate.

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The last film director Scott Cooper made was the uneven and quite frankly, very frustrating Out of the Furnace. Here he kept the pace moving quite nicely; I’m surprised that he was able to keep the film’s runtime in just over 2 hours. He pretty much borrowed every element from other films such as Goodfellas, The Godfather, The Departed and so on. It’s not a knock on him but I wish he came up with his own style to tell this story.

Even though I thought it’s a good film, I can’t say it’s a great one. This kind of story has been told many times before and I think with a more talented director behind the cameras, this could’ve been a great flick. I’d say see it just for Depp’s and Edgerton’s performances, those two really saves the film from being another average gangster thriller.

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TedS_post


So have you seen Black Mass? Well, what did you think?